Maternal complications of pregnancy increase beyond 40 weeks of gestation in low-risk women

A. B. Caughey, J. T. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objective: We sought to determine when rates of maternal pregnancy complications increase for low-risk nulliparous and multiparous women at term. Methods: We designed a retrospective cohort study of low-risk women delivered beyond 37 weeks gestational age from 1976 to 2001. Rates of mode of delivery and maternal complications of labor and delivery were examined by gestational age with both bivariate and multivariate analyses. Statistical significance was designated by P<0.05. Results: We found that among the 32828 low-risk women who delivered at 37 completed weeks and beyond, the rates of primary cesarean delivery, operative vaginal delivery, third- or fourth-degree perineal lacerations, and chorioamnionitis all increased at 40 weeks of gestation (P<0.001), and the rate of postpartum hemorrhage increased at 41 weeks of gestation (P<0.001). These increases of rates of complications were larger and increased at an earlier gestational age among nulliparous women. Conclusion: We found that the risk of maternal complications for otherwise low risk nulliparous and multiparous women increased as pregnancy progressed beyond 40 weeks of gestation. Counseling of women who progress past their EDC should include comparing the risks of induction of labor to that of expectant management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-545
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Perinatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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